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One of Da Nang’s top attractions, the five outcrops that make up central Vietnam’s Marble Mountains (Ngũ Hành Sơn) each are named after a different element: fire, wood, metal, water and earth. Visit the mountains to take in views of the landscape, to explore caves, Buddhist and Hindu grottoes, pagodas, and shrines, and even to shop.
Rising 8,415 feet (2,565 meters) above sea level, Mt. Doi Inthanon, situated in the center of Doi Inthanon National Park, is Thailand’s tallest mountain. While many visitors strive to see the views from its summit, the surrounding forests, waterfalls, stupas—dome-shaped Buddhist shrines—and trails are just as impressive.
Nusa Dua’s answer to Ubud’s art museums, Museum Pasifika, which opened in 2006, is dedicated to the art of Asia Pacific. Balinese artists and expatriates working on the island are well-represented, but galleries showcase art and sculptures from Papua, Vanuatu, Polynesia, historical Indo-China, and beyond.
The stunning Maya Bay (Maya Beach) became a major tourist attraction after the 2000 film,The Beach, was filmed here. It’s situated within Thailand’s Phi Phi Islands, off the coasts of both Krabi and Phuket on the mainland, and is distinguished by its beautiful white-sand beach sheltered by limestone cliffs on three sides.
There are in fact several beaches here, but most are small and some only exist at low tide. The main beach, where most boats drop passengers just offshore, is a 200-meter long strip of silky white sand. It’s surrounded by clear waters filled with colorful coral and an abundance of exotic fish, making it an absolute haven for snorkelers. Walking inland is also a treat, with a path that winds through lush greenery and reveals some simply spectacular scenery.
It’s true that Maya Bay’s popularity has taken a certain degree of the shine from this once little-heard of slice of paradise. It’s become so well-known that its shores are filled with hoards of boats dropping visitors off and picking them up throughout the day, particularly in peak season. Visitors should arrive early in the morning to avoid the larger part of the crowds.
Please note: Maya Bay (Maya Beach) is closed indefinitely due to overtourism.
Designed by British architects Edwin Lutyens and Herbert Baker, the Parliament House (Sansad Bhavan) is a striking sandstone building and home to both houses of the Parliament of India. This round building was inspired by the Great Stupa of Sanchi and the Ashoka Chakra—the same circular symbol found in the center of the Indian flag.
The stunning Tegalalang Rice Terrace, part of the Cultural Landscape of Bali Province UNESCO World Heritage Site, comprises cascading emerald-green fields worked by local rice farmers. Just outside Ubud, it has become a destination for travelers making their way between Bali’s sandy beaches, towering mountains, and steaming volcanoes.
Home to the world's largest gold Buddha statue, the Temple of the Golden Buddha (Wat Traimit) is a prominent stop on Bangkok’s temple trail. Measuring nine feet (three meters) tall and weighing more than five tons (4,535 kilograms), the Buddha attracts floods of visitors who come to marvel at its size and gleaming golden surface.
Koh Samui is known for its incredible beaches, turquoise waters and sandy shores. But hidden away from the coastal wonder lies one of the most unique temples in the nation—Wat Khunaram.
While this gilded red and white temple may look typical to travelers who climb the dozen or so stairs that lead to its entryway, once inside, visitors will find a site unlike anywhere else. That’s because a vertical glass casket holds the mummified body of Loung Pordaeng—a famous monk—in his most meditative state. Locals say his meditation techniques, which required less oxygen than his peers—are responsible for his still well-preserved state. Visitors can come tour the site, learn about the life of this religious icon, and bear witness to local Buddhists praying at wat shrines.
Conceptualized by local award-winning sculptor Eduardo Castillo and unveiled in 2000, Cebu Heritage Monument is a brass, bronze, and steel monolith that showcases the country’s history in giant form. Telling a story of colonization and occupation, visit the monument to learn about the Philippines’ centuries-long struggle for freedom.
Dominating the heart of the monument is the sculpture of the Spanish galleon ship that carried explorer Ferdinand Magellan and his crew to 16th-century Cebu. Magellan’s arrival marked the beginning of the colonization of the Philippines, though on the night of April 21, 1521, local chieftain Lapu-Lapu ended up killing him in the Battle of Mactan, and Cebu Heritage Monument depicts this event too.
From Spanish sailboats to men preparing for battle, Cebu Heritage Monument is hyper masculine, though there are touches of color, with the red, white, and blue of the Philippine flag splashed across one corner of the monument.
Based in Plaza Parian in front of the Chapel of San Juan Bautista, the Philippines’ religious history is also carved into this monument. See the the conversion of Rajah Humabon — one of the first indigenous converts to Roman Catholicism — to Christianity. Spot a statue of the blessed Saint Pedro Calungsod, a giant cross, a representation of Cebu City’s first Mass, and depictions of Cebu City’s Basilica del Santo Niño, Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral, and San Juan Bautista Parish Church.
Thailand’s answer to Barcelona’s La Sagrada Família cathedral, the Sanctuary of Truth (Prasat Sut Ja-Tum) was begun in 1981 and is scheduled for completion around 2050. The wooden structure is a whopping 345 feet tall (105 meters tall), hand-carved by artisans using traditional techniques, and full of Hindu and Buddhist sculptures.
Nestled among the mangrove forests of Semawang, the privately-owned Labuk Bay Proboscis Monkey Sanctuary allows you observe the endemic primates during feeding times throughout the day. Fresh fruit and vegetables are provided to supplement the diets of the monkeys, who roam free in the surrounding forest.
Said to date back to the 12th century, Beng Mealea is a sandstone temple that replicates the design of the iconic Angkor Wat. The temple grounds are surrounded by a gigantic moat that was once entirely consumed by jungle; if you enter from the south side, you’ll find yourself amid haphazard sandstone blocks and creeping vines.
One of a cluster of islands that stud Nha Trang Bay, Hon Mun island is the epicenter of the Hon Mun Marine Protected Area. Spanning 30,000 acres (12,000 hectares) of protected ocean, the zone is home to colorful coral and marine life. Visit to snorkel one of Vietnam’s favorite underwater spots.
As the name suggests, Jeju Glass Castle in west Jeju is devoted to the art of glass. Hundreds of sculptures by artists from around the world span three zones. Highlights at this glass-themed, indoor-outdoor park include the Magic Forest walking trail and a stunning mirrored room. You can take short classes in glassblowing, glass painting, and a technique called lampworking.
Bali’s most popular sacred spring, Tirta Empul Temple dates back more than 1,000 years. Travelers from around the globe flock to its holy waters to bathe beside Balinese pilgrims; accept blessings from healers, priests, and shamans; or simply soak up the atmosphere. The temple is northeast of Ubud in Tampaksiring, not far from Gunung Kawi.
By far Mongolia’s most recognizable landmark and one of the world’s largest equestrian statues, the 131-foot-tall (40-meter-tall) Genghis Khan Statue Complex (Chinggis Khaan Statue Complex) towers over the surrounding landscape. Ride the elevator up inside the horse, learn about the Mongols at the museum, shop for souvenirs, or enjoy a snack at the café.
Built by the Portuguese, the 16th-century Galle Fort occupies a promontory in Sri Lanka’s south-coast city of Galle. Developed into a walled town by the Dutch in the 17th century before the British arrived in 1796, the UNESCO-listed fort boasts cobbled streets and European- and Asian-style buildings enclosed by sea walls.
A unique structure with spectacular views of Malaysia’s Langkawi archipelago, the Langkawi Sky Bridge is a curved suspension bridge on Mt. Machinchang. The 410-foot-long (125-meter-long) span hangs from a single pylon, 328 feet (100 meters) above the ground, offering excellent views of the jungle-covered mountains below and the Andaman Sea beyond.
At Zoorasia, a zoo in Yokohama with minimal fencing, animals live in an environment as close to nature as possible. The zoo is divided into seven different geographic and climatic zones, including Asian Tropical Forest, Japanese Countryside, and Subarctic Forest, that house animals belonging to more than 100 species.
When volcanic and seismic activity permits, 12,224-foot (3,726-meter) Mt. Rinjani is one of Indonesia’s great volcano climbs—even if you stop, as many climbers do, at the crater rim. The towering peak, complete with crater lake, dominates north Lombok, so even when the mountain is closed to visitors, hikes on the lower slopes appeal.
The Indonesia National Monument (Monas) towers 433 feet (132 meters) above Jakarta’s geographical center, topped with a gilded flame. Designed by Indonesia’s first president, Sukarno, it houses a museum of dioramas and an observation platform.
Over a century old, the Hanoi Opera House (Nha Hat Lon is a national landmark due to its neoclassical French architecture and Gothic embellishments. Home to the Vietnam Symphony Orchestra, the opera house also hosts the Hanoi Philharmonic Orchestra, the National Ballet, and both traditional and modern local productions.
In the year 642, Zenko-ji Temple was founded when one of the earliest Buddhist statues in Japan, brought over from the Korean Peninsula, was enshrined at the site. Today, the temple is one of the most important Buddhist sites in the country, as well as Japan’s third largest wooden structure, with the entire town of Nagano built up around it.
The structure as it stands today dates back to 1707 and contains a large hall displaying a variety of Buddhist statuary, a main alter and an underground passage beneath the alter where visitors can pass in complete darkness, feeling for a single key on the wall -- the key to paradise -- that’s believed to grand salvation to any who touch it.
Behind the main temple, a newer pagoda houses the Zenko-ji History Museum with its collection of statues of the Buddha and his disciples.
Tiny Tup Island (also written Tub Island, Koh Tup, Ko Tup, Koh Tub, or Ko Tub sits just 500 feet (150 meters from neighboring Mor Island (Mo Island, Koh Mor, Ko Mor, Koh Mo, or Ko Mo, offshore from Ao Nang. When the tide is right, you can walk between the rocky islets on a picture-perfect white sandbar, framed by warm turquoise waters.